NAPA — Just as rookie wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey emerged from his slow start, he sustained a toe injury that prevented him from practicing much Sunday.

Heyward-Bey worked on his pass-catching on a field adjacent to where his teammates practiced full-team drills.

Heyward-Bey missed considerable time in the offseason workouts because of a hamstring injury, so the Raiders want to be certain that their 2009 first-round draft pick is healthy for the regular season.

"No it's not serious at all," coach Tom Cable said. "It's just, let's be smart and not do something that may prolong anything."

Receivers coach Sanjay Lal spoke with Heyward-Bey after practice for 15 minutes or so.

"All summer he's been working on a key set of techniques in terms of his catching, concentration, routes," Lal said. "It's just a matter of time. It needs to come together for him. We just need to get him reps. More reps, more reps, more reps, and that's where it'll take him to, where he needs to go."

Heyward-Bey was unavailable for comment.

Make some noise

The Raiders practiced with artificial crowd noise piped in from a sideline sound system in an attempt to simulate conditions against opponents on the road.

"We got to where we were handling that pretty good, obviously, with the last game of the season," said Cable, referring to the team's victory at Tampa Bay in the 2008 finale. "If you look at like the Miami trip, we handled it pretty well. At Denver, handled it pretty well.


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"You just want to see if you can get more consistent with that. And then you always have to deal with the noise when you're the opponent and you go on the road, so you want to start working in that a little bit."

The Raiders' first road exhibition game is against the 49ers on Aug. 22. Loud venues this season include Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium, Pittsburgh's Heinz Field and Denver's Invesco Field at Mile High.

QB rotation

Cable said he intends to announce Tuesday the playing time for his quarterbacks in the exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night.

JaMarcus Russell is expected to start. Jeff Garcia will be the primary backup if his right calf strain heals in time.

Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye are competing for the No. 3 spot. Gradkowski has received more reps in practice of late, so he figures to relieve Russell or Garcia, if he plays.

Extra points

Running back Justin Fargas, cornerback John Bowie, linebacker Jon Alston (foot) and receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins (leg) were additions to the injury list. Cable didn't reveal the nature of the injuries to Fargas and Bowie. All four were limited in practice. "... Middle linebacker Ricky Brown made his displeasure known when defensive tackle Tommy Kelly jumped offsides for the umpteenth time since camp started July 30. "We got to play through it," Brown said, among other non-printable things. "Watch the ball, please," defensive line coach Dwaine Board said afterward.

— Steve Corkran